length

11 Days

difficulty

Moderate

trip cost

From $4650 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

11 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $4650 pp

Self-Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Inclusions
  • On the Trail
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar Walks

Overview

Overview

Combine the ancient and modern cities of Kyoto and Tokyo with a hike along the historic Nakasendo Way, discovering the regional treasures of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai. In ancient times, during the feudal period, the Nakasendo Way connected Kyoto to Tokyo via a network of 69 post towns.

Begin your journey on the 69th post town of Kyoto where you’ll have 3-nights to explore the splendours of this stunning city of shrines, temples and gardens before making your way by train to Nakatsugawa to commence your walk on the Nakasendo Way. Over 5 days you’ll travel on ancient paved paths known as ishidatami, past hidden waterfalls and through stunning cedar and cypress forests and numerous wayside shrines, staying in family-run ryokans and tasting the local delights of the Kiso Valley and Gifu Prefecture along the way.

You’ll discover the well-preserved post towns of Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai. From Narai, the end point of your walk, take a train journey to the capital Tokyo, where you’ll have 3-nights to explore the city’s incredible melting pot of modern yet traditional.

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Highlights

Get Ready For

  • A journey through the heart of Japan
  • Walk the historical Nakasendo Way through the Kiso Valley
  • Discover the old and the new of Tokyo on a private, guided tour
  • Walk the original ishidatami (stone paving) dating back 400 years
  • Visit Nakatsugawa, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai
  • Explore Kyoto, the cultural and historical heart of the country on a private guided tour 
  • Follow in the footsteps of the Tokugawa Shogun and the Samurai during the Edo period (1603–1868)

Itinerary

Daily Details

Week 1: Kyoto - Kiso-Fukushima
Day 1
Arrive Kyoto

Make your way to the historic city of Kyoto. This fascinating city was once the capital of Japan and the residence of emperors for over 1000 years. During the Edo era, the Nakasendo Way stretched 534km between Kyoto and Tokyo as an important trade route. Once you have checked into your hotel, you have the rest of the day to start exploring.

Day 2
Tour of Kyoto

Today our local, experienced guide will introduce you to the wonders of Kyoto in a half-day tour that explores the highlights of this great city. You will be captivated by the vibrant orange Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine, a stunning visual experience. Explore the bustling Gion district known for its atmospheric restaurants, bars and tea houses. Cross the famous Kamo River on your way to the Nishiki market where you will learn about the local and seasonal cuisine. The market is truly remarkable for the intricate and myriad of foods on display, many of which you will have never seen before. Your guide will depart from the market, and you have the rest of the day to explore Kyoto.

Meals: B

Day 3
Free day in Kyoto

Today is a day to explore Kyoto and its surrounds. You may like to wander along the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove following the path through this natural forest of bamboo. Perhaps visit some of Japan’s most iconic attractions, the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji), Kiyomizudera Temple or stroll along the Philosopher’s Path. 

Meals: B

Day 4
Train from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa

Today you will make your way from Kyoto to Nakatsugawa, travelling via Nagoya (approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes). We recommend arriving around lunch time so you have time to wander around the old-town area where you will find many of the old buildings and shops still working today. 

Alternatively, there is the option of joining our local guide on a ‘Backstreets Walking tour’ of Nakatsugawa. You will be escorted through the town’s narrow winding streets, discovering the myriad of well-preserved wooden buildings, residences and warehouses (kura) originally constructed during the historical Edo Period. This was a time when the town prospered with a population of over 1000 people and around 200 houses. This is an opportunity to learn of the town’s rich history and gain an understanding of local village life as you encounter local people along the way. (Additional cost applies and subject to availability – please enquire at time of booking)

Meals: B, D

Day 5
Nakatsugawa to Tsumago (16km)

Setting off on your walk this morning, you will soon come across a red torii gate as you’re leaving Nakatsugawa. There will be some steep slopes today before Ochiai and then you will be walking on an old cobblestoned way. It’s on this route that you will be walking up to the entrance of Magome, one of the highlights of the Nakasendo Way. It truly is a reminder of how the post towns were during the Edo period. You will have time to stroll through the small shops along the main street of Magome.

The Nakasendo Way continues through the centre of Magome past old shops and inns. The trail begins to climb up to the small settlement of Touge, and there is a good rest break here. You will then walk over the Magome Pass and slowly descend through peaceful woodland. You’ll hear the roar of the waterfalls, which slowly fade as you pass streams and rice paddies coming into the small village of O-Tsumago.

Leaving O-Tsumago, the trail descends into the enchanting village of Tsumago. The street is lined with traditional Japanese wooden houses, shops and ryokan. You might want to stroll through the streets after dinner wearing a traditional yukata gown provided by your inn.

Meals: B D

Day 6
Tsumago to Kiso-Fukushima (17km walking; 30km train travel)

Today’s walk takes you through Nagiso and the beautiful Yogawa Forest, before descending to Nojiri where you will take the train on to Kiso-Fukushima and your accommodation for the night. The trail will take you along some road sections broken up with interesting villages and scenic bamboo and cedar forest. It is quite hilly today and the Nenouetoge pass has some steep, sustained ascents and descents. A highlight are the streams and rivers running alongside the trail.

Meals: B D

Day 7
Train from Kiso-Fukushima to Yabuhara and trek to Narai (8km)

Today you can have a leisurely start to the day and spend some time in Kiso-Fukushima before catching the train to Yabuhara to start your trek.  From Yabuhara, the Nakasendo Way climbs up to the Torii Pass, named after the Shinto torii gate, which marks one of four protective sites surrounding Mount Ontake. At 1197m, the Torii Pass is a great vantage point for views of Mount Ontake on a clear day. Our descent takes you along narrow mountain paths until you emerge at the outskirts of Narai, a lovely post town and the wealthiest along the Nakasendo Way. Explore and relax in the cafes and shops of this well-preserved and atmospheric town.

Meals: B D

Week 2: Kiso-Fukushima - Tokyo
Day 8
Train from Narai to Tokyo

Today, you’ll depart Narai by train and head to the modern capital of Tokyo. Formerly known as Edo, Tokyo became the capital city of Japan in 1868. This metropolis is now one of the world’s largest cities offering a great mix of cultural sights, large public gardens, shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Once you’ve checked in to your hotel you have the remainder of the day to explore.

Meals: B

Day 9
Tour of Tokyo

This morning, our local guide will further introduce you to Tokyo on a private half-day tour that explores some of the highlights of this electric city. You will kick off your tour by discovering the atmospheric Asakusa Old Town. During the Edo period, this area was once the main entertainment district. You will now find charming temples, shrines, and a popular shopping street. From here you will relax to the rhythm of a river cruise (own expense) along the Sumida River before exploring the beautifully landscaped gardens of Hamarikyu Park.

Tsukiji Market is your last stop and you will be guided along the bustling narrow streets to discover retail and wholesale shops selling produce and fresh and dried seafood. From here you can return to your hotel or your guide can give you some suggestions for other options to explore for the remainder of the afternoon.

Meals: B

Day 10
Explore Tokyo

Today you are free to explore the city at your leisure. There are a number of fascinating museums to visit, including the Edo-Tokyo Museum which provides a wonderful overview and insight into the Nakasendo Way. If you prefer a bit more activity, you may like to hire a bike and cycle around the Yanaka neighbourhood. Perhaps shopping, wining and dining may interest you more; or if you’re after a more relaxing experience, perhaps a stroll through Todoroki Valley may be of interest. Either way, the choices are endless.

Meals: B

Day 11
Depart Tokyo

Today is a departure day and your tour ends after breakfast.

Meals: B

Inclusions

What's included

Included
  • 4 nights accommodation along the trek in traditional Japanese guesthouses/inns (ryokans)
  •  3 nights accommodation in Kyoto (Western Hotel)
  • 3 Nights accommodation in Tokyo (Western Hotel)
  • Half-Day Tour of Kyoto with a local guide
  • Half-Day Tour of Tokyo with a local guide
  • Daily meals as listed in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers on your hiking days
  • Briefing in Nakatsugawa at the start of your trek
  • RAW Travel’s exclusive interactive navigation app
  • Local and Australian emergency contacts
Excluded
  • Bus and train tickets
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Drinks other than water at meals
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Lunches
  • Single supplement
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On the Trail

The experience

The Nakasendo Way offers picturesque, tranquil walking and a variety of trail conditions as you progress along the Kiso Valley. Much of the time you will be walking through fields and rural villages and enjoying gentle inclines that can be taken at a comfortable pace. In the forest you will be walking on a track that can be wet or uneven underfoot. In the more built-up areas the path itself is asphalt, while at its wildest it becomes unformed grit winding between alpine conifers. For sections in between these two extremes, the path is clad in what’s known as ishidatami – a traditional style of stone paving.

Nakasendo-Way-Destination-Guide-Cover

Exclusive Guide

get inspired

Ready to step back in time and discover a centuries-old road through the mountains of central Japan? The Nakasendo Way is a stunning 94km journey from Mitake to Narai. Steeped in history, much of this walk weaves through the picturesque Kiso Valley. The ‘post towns’ strung out along the route give an enticing and authentic glimpse into Japan’s past.

There is so much to discover on this route! Find out more in our comprehensive destination guide – it’s bursting with inspiration, travel essentials, practical information and more!

Download Now

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TRIP date selection

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Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

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